Coronavirus testing pods set up at hospitals after NHS demandby Dominic Robertson
Coronavirus testing-pods have been set up at Shropshire hospitals as the UK ups its preparations for dealing with the virus.
More than 1,300 people are now reported to have died globally after contracting coronavirus – but just nine cases of the respiratory illness have been diagnosed so far in the UK.
A statement from the Department of Health said: "As of February 14, a total of 2,964 people have been tested, of which 2,955 were confirmed negative and 9 positive."
A temporary building has been put in place outside A&E at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, for the purposes of testing patients who turn up at the hospital with suspected coronavirus.
It comes after the NHS ordered all hospitals to set up the isolation booths for the purposes of dealing with suspected cases.
A letter from NHS England to trusts across the country said: "As part of managing care in emergency departments, trusts are being asked to organise a “Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pod”, which will mean people with symptoms indicative of infection will get quick assessment, while other patients also continue to get appropriate care."
Earlier this week one of the teams Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust spoke out to quash rumours that its hospitals were treating people for the illness.
Writing on Twitter the trusts's infection prevention and control team said: "The current caseload of victims are not being treated in any of our hospitals, and no one has tested positive."
The post came after unfounded speculation on social media.
In the Black Country and Staffordshire hospitals have also been gearing up to deal with potential cases of coronavirus.
NHS trusts in Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell and Wolverhampton declined to comment on how their local hospitals are dealing with the situation – but Wolverhampton’s New Cross and Walsall Manor both have pods set up outside.
And preparations have been taking place at Stafford’s county hospital in case a patient believed to have the illness does turn up, the University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust heard at its board meeting this week.
Chief nurse Michelle Rhodes said: “The response [to coronavirus] is being led by Public Health England, both nationally and locally. We have been following their guidance.
“We are as well-prepared at this time as we can be for any patients who might have coronavirus. We are lucky we have an isolation ward on site.
“We have an isolation area and we are working with the emergency preparedness team and infection control. We have put doctors and nurses in place and we have a supply of protective equipment.
“We have ‘grab bags’ with all the equipment we are required to wear if a patient comes in and there are ‘donning and doffing’ procedures for putting them on and how we take them off and how we dispose of them.”